Mothers grab your Kleenex. Fathers, start designing that exercise room that you always wanted. Younger siblings prepare to rejoice. It will not be long before last year’s high school seniors are this year’s college freshmen. So, for those of you preparing to leave, take a break from packing your bags and read the only advice column you’ll need ‘€“ at least with regards to your next four years. l promise to spare you the unhelpful clichÃ©s of the ‘€˜study hard, play hard’ nature. The following is a list of five important lessons I learned ‘€“ both from personal trials and tribulations and those of my peers ‘€“ that will drastically improve your first year and set you up for an outstanding college experience.
- Take advantage of the two week window: For the rest of your life there will never be a time when so many people want to be your friend as during the first two weeks of your freshman year of college. It is important to remember that during this period nobody knows anybody and everyone is experiencing the same mixture of homesickness and excitement about exploring their new social surroundings. Therefore, be friendly to everyone and make as many acquaintances as possible. Don’t be afraid to sit next to strangers in the dining hall or introduce yourself to the person you’re sitting next to in Calculus. Your best friends will probably be made within your residence hall, but making a lot of connections will give you more windows into your school’s nightlife and more opportunities to get the notes that you missed when you were absent. Meeting people will progressively get harder and harder from the first day on, so use the first two weeks wisely.
- Make good first impressions: As long as you are not going to school with a bunch of your high school buddies, college is a beautiful opportunity to reinvent yourself. You essentially have a clean slate. So, steal your funniest friends’ jokes, your smoothest friends’ lines and don’t feel any pressure to tell people the embarrassing things you did in high school. However, don’t go too far. It isn’t difficult to see through someone’s lies and nobody likes the kid who enjoys nothing better than to revel in his high school glory.
Additionally it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the first week of school and show off your wild side. Have fun, but remember that your friends won’t forget the embarrassing things that you did and you will be living them down for the next four years’€¦ I certainly have not stopped giving my friends a hard time about their first week exploits.
- Disregard Blink: Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling novel, Blink, is all about trusting your first impressions. When meeting new people at school, disregard what you have learned from Mr. Gladwell. At the end of the year my friends and I reflected on our first impressions of each other and for the most part, they were all wrong. Some of my best friends were kids who I initially disliked.
- Become Friendly with your professors and even friendlier with RateMyProfessor.com: Especially in big lecture halls it is easy to become just another face in the crowd in the eyes of your professor. Make a concerted effort to go to your professor’s office hours or just ask them questions during and after class. Professors love when you ask what you can do better next time and often they will give you better grades if you simply ask for them.
However, all of these tactics will be for naught if you have a bad professor. To ensure that you don’t, check out RateMyProfessor.com, a tremendously useful website. Most of the student comments are right on and often times some of the critiques include helpful strategies for success in a given class.
- Bad Roommates Only Get Worse: Take it from someone whose roommate was a messy, nocturnal, 2-gallon of diet coke a day guzzling, smelly gamer; your roommate situation does not get better as time goes by. You have to live with this person for the whole year, and they will only become more and more comfortable with living with you so don’t be afraid to tell them when they’re doing something that drives you crazy. Also, if you know that you dislike your roommate and that one of your friends on your hall feels the same way about theirs, do everything in your power to coordinate a roommate switch between semesters. Seriously, involve a third party, offer bribes, do whatever you have to do.
A few other suggestions:
Don’t schedule classes that you can’t wake up for.
Scout out the best bathrooms in your school.
Submit AP and IB scores ASAP so that you have a higher priority when selecting classes.
If your professor isn’t adamant that you’ll need a certain textbook, don’t buy it.
Don’t be afraid to borrow (or steal) from the dining hall.
Nyack High School graduate Max Cea is entering his sophomore year at the College of William and Mary.